Catholicism arrived in Martinique with the first settlers in the 17th century. Catholicism developed somewhat among the slaves (some speak of an imposition of Christianity with the black code) but it is after the abolition of slavery that it spread the most on the island (more marriages and baptisms counted after than before the abolition).
Among the many churches in the towns and villages of Martinique, some are authentic masterpieces and are even part of the UNESCO world heritage
Seat of the bishopric of Fort de France and Saint Pierre, the catholic cathedral Saint-Louis de Fort de France is located in the capital of Martinique and is placed under the patronage, as its name indicates, of Saint Louis, canonized king of France.
This monumental place of worship has not always had the appearance that it has today, due to earthquakes, fires and cyclones that have damaged the first constructions. The cathedral that stands today dates back to 1891, the year in which its construction began.
The architect Pierre Henri Picq is at the origin of the project. In the 1970s, following yet another earthquake, the cathedral received a major restoration and reopened in 1979. In 2016, it even received a new spire to give itself a makeover.
A neo-Gothic and Romano-Byzantine cathedral, the imposing building, with its blue metal spire, is of masterful beauty. Easily recognizable by its white dress, its blue decorative elements reminiscent of the sky and its iron structure, it stands proudly in the old town and is visible from the Bay of Flemings.
The interior is equally fascinating. The vast nave is decorated with fine and subtle floral decorations. As for the stained glass windows, 19 in number, they are remarkably rich, highlighting the life of Saint Louis and displaying coats of arms, mottos and religious symbols in peaceful harmony. Easily accessible, the Saint-Louis Cathedral of Fort de France is a visit not to be missed for the pleasure of the eyes as well as to get closer to the life of the Foyalais.
The cathedral of Notre Dame de l'Assomption in Saint-Pierre de la Martinique was built in 1654 but in the form we know it today. The first version was destroyed by an English bombardment from the sea and like the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Fort de France, the church has suffered the torments of nature. It was indeed destroyed by the eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902.
Its reconstruction began in 1923 and has continued to evolve until today to give it its current appearance. Built in reinforced concrete in a liner-like structure, it imposes by its massive appearance. The co-cathedral is distinguished by its two three-story towers and its three recent stained glass windows created by Victor Anicet on the theme of the Resurrection.
The church of Notre Dame de l'Assomption of Sainte-Marie is one of the most pleasant on the island. Located on the heights of the village at the top of a large staircase, the white church with some blue touches, colors of the Virgin Mary, is in a baroque style close to the Spanish type.
One of the particularities of the church, in addition to its exterior appearance, is its rather sober interior with an impressive number of exposed beams. In 2007, the church was hit by Hurricane Dean and had to close for 2 years for renovation. If you pass by Sainte-Marie, take the opportunity to stop and appreciate the building.
Standing on top of a hill in the rainforest, in the garden of Balata, is the Sacré-Coeur de Balata church, a replica of the Sacré Coeur basilica in Paris (5 times smaller). Originally stood a small chapel then in the early twentieth century. Faced with the increase in population around Fort-de-France was launched a project to build a more spacious church.
It is in this context that the Sacred Heart of Balata was born. From the road to the Trace, the "Montmartre of Martinique" stands out for its whiteness, contrasting with the omnipresent greenery, its dome and its bell tower standing in the middle of the luxuriant vegetation. The garden of Balata being a place not to be missed if you stay a few days in Martinique do not hesitate to go to the church to take some pictures. The spot offers some of the most pleasant panoramas on the city of Fort-de-France.
If there is a church that is worth a look, it is the church of Saint-Henri in Anses d'Arlet. What makes it special is not its sober and discreet appearance, although its bell tower (rebuilt in 2008...following the passage of a cyclone) with several levels is quite remarkable, but rather its location.
Placed on the seafront, the pontoon of the beach of Anse d'Arlet is perfectly aligned at its entrance. From the end of the wooden construction, the view is simply magnificent: a fine sandy beach, a church surrounded by houses, in the background the mornes with intense greenery and above covering the whole an azure blue sky!
In addition to these churches and cathedrals registered as historical monuments, Martinique has many other churches that also deserve a few lines and that we invite you to discover such as
the church of the Immaculate Conception of Ajoupa Bouillon
the church of Saint Jacques in Carbet
the church of Saint-Thomas in Le Diamant
the church of Notre Dame de la Nativité in Ducos
the church of Sainte Hyacinthe in Lorrain
the church Notre Dame de la Bonne Délivrance.
Anyway, during your trip, we advise you to rent a car in Martinique. You will be able to go from city to city more easily and access all the churches and cathedrals without too many problems!
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